Thai Nguyen: Farewell to Steelworks Steam

Steam in Vietnam: 28.10./31.10. – 06.11.2010

Thai Nguyen: slag tip at night

They are still alive: Vietnamese steam locomotives in daily use. But their number is down to only two and even this will be over very soon. By the end of 2010 two steam loco drivers will be retired. Together with them the last two standard gauge saturated tank engines in Asia will be withdrawn.

Vietnam has more to offer than regular steam: we’ve arranged an optional tourist programme including the historical city of Hanoi and the wonderful Halong Bay with its karst forma-tions, grottoes and hundreds of islands.

Steam and diesel in Vietnam: steelworks Thai Nguyen



Date Date Itinerary
  28.10. Evening flight from Europe/America/Australia to Hanoi (from Frankfurt/Main in the late evening)
  29.10. Flight to Hanoi, arrival in the evening, charter bus to our hotel in Hanoi
  30.10. Sightseeing in Hanoi: we’ll start with an “old quarter tour by cycle” (one hour), then we’ll visit the Hoan Kiem lake, the Ngoc Son Temple and the Ho Chi Minh Complex with its famous One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a Museum and the Palace, in the evening we’ll go by train to the harbour city of Hai Phong, hotel in Hai Phong
  31.10. By charter bus to Ha Long. From there we’ll enjoy a Halong Bay tour by boat (six hours) to visit the Thien Cung Grotto, the Dau Go Cave and the Floating Village. Lunch is planned to be on board our boat with fresh seafood. Lovely three star hotel with sea view over the Halong Bay
  01.11. Late morning return to Hanoi by charter bus. On the way we’ll make stops along the railway line Ha Long – Kep. Meeting with the railway group and continue to Thai Nguyen in the evening.
31.10.   Evening flight from Europe/America/Australia to Hanoi (departure from Frankfurt/Main in the late evening)
01.11.   Flight to Hanoi, arrival in the evening, charter bus to Thai Nguyen, hotel in Thai Nguyen
02.11.   Visit to the steelworks of Thai Nguyen for pictures of the blast furnace area and other parts of the railway system inside the steelworks complex including the depot. We’ll watch regular steam trains, in the evening we’ll take some night pictures of steam locos in the steel works, hotel in Thai Nguyen
03.11.   Another visit to the steelworks. At 08.30 hrs we’ll enjoy a charter train with loco class GJ   (0-6-0) on the short branch line of the steelworks, late morning and afternoon another visit to the steam activities inside the steel works, in the evening we will stay for the night spectacle at the slag tip. Hotel Thai Nguyen
04.11.   08.00 hrs charter freight train with class GJ and some five freight cars plus guards van from Thai Nguyen to Pho Co (Pho Yen), return to Thai Nguyen around 12.30 hrs; continue by charter bus to Hanoi, visit to the depot in Yen Vien (diesel locos class D4H, D14E and D19E), continue to visit to the stored steam locomotives in Gia Lam depot: 141-122, 141-165 and 141-190, hotel in Hanoi
05.11.   Visit to the depot next to the main station of Hanoi with another three steam locomotives parked inside a shed, optional short sightseeing tour of Hanoi (for instance the Presidential Palace), Hotel in Hanoi or return flight home in the evening
  06.11. Morning flight to Chengdu (China) and continue with our Steam in South-West China program or
06.11.   arrival at home


Steam in Vietnam: charter train on the line to Pho Co

Tour details

The steelworks of Thai Nguyen form the last stand of steam in Vietnam. Usually, they use two Chinese 0-6-0 tank locomotives for shunting operations in the steel works and for the few hundred yards to the state railway station. We have an official permit for our visit to the steelworks including the blast furnaces, the slag tip and the depot. We’ve planned night visits to experience the steam locos in the impressive light of a sparsely illuminated steelworks. The bright orange light from the slag tip is a must when you’re visiting a steelworks like Thai Nguyen.

The management agreed to use two steam locomotives during our visiting days. The steelworks still owns six of the Chinese GJ class

locomotives. Most of the tracks inside the steelworks have three rails – for metre gauge and standard gauge. The steam locomotives are used on the standard gauge while Russian diesel locomotives are metre gauge locomotives.

Our first charter train will run over the short branch of the steelworks towards a small redundant steel works. The second charter train will be over the state railway. The line offers many rural views, a little bridge and several stations, still equipped with semaphores.

The steelworks still own a Japanese 2-6-2-metre gauge tank engine which is dumped in good condition in the shed. Beside the locomotives in the steelworks we’ll visit the last dumped steam locomotives in and around Hanoi. In addition we’ll make visits to three state railway depots which host a variety of diesel locomotives.

The pre-tour offers a view of the sights of Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, and the very scenic Halong bay. The markets in Halong are worth a visit as well.

Steam near Luu Xa

We expect temperatures a bit above 25 degrees Centigrade. There might be some rainy days, please be prepared.

If you also join our China tour, you’ll use the international overnight train to Nanning. We’ll book this journey in first class compartments which consist of four beds. The class is called soft sleeper and these coaches air conditioning. The stop at the border will take about 30 minutes on both sides. Apart from at these times, you’ll probably sleep very well in the sleeper compartment. It’s a standard gauge coach.

Hotels in the smaller cities of Vietnam can be rather simple but will all offer clean bedding and a hot shower in a private bathroom. Single rooms are available for a supplement. Single rooms are not available on train rides. Charter buses and trains represent the standard of our host country, which may deviate from European, North American and Australian expectations.

Steam in the steelworks Thai Nguyen

Power cuts are rare. They use the same system as in Europe, 220 Volts and 50 Hz. Occasionally, you’ll need an adapter for the sockets. In the hotels you can recharge your batteries without a problem, in the overnight train (if you follow us to China) usually not. The mobile phone standard complies to western Europe as well. A European mobile should work in Vietnam.

The second part of the tour is designed for both dedicated photographers and video filmmakers while the first part is suitable for the traveller with a general interest in our host country. It will also suit your spouse or girlfriend. On the steelworks part we’ll provide opportunities to get that perfect shot rather than a time consuming 5-star breakfast buffet. On occasions lunch will be served as a packed meal. In the evening we’ll have time for meals that are usually sumptuous. Beverages are not included in the tour price.

In the steelworks and especially near the slag tips and the blast furnaces you should consider a higher risk of accidents. Please think twice before you make a hasty step, use common sense and your eyes and ears. The organiser of the tour can not monitor every step of everyone, you’re responsible for yourself.

Please bear in mind that accommodation and transportation in Vietnam falls short of EU or US safety standards. Always use common sense when crossing roads and railway tracks. FarRail Tours cannot be held responsible, and will not accept any liability whatsoever, in the case of any accident, damage or delay. We suggest you take out a comprehensive overseas accident and health insurance policy.

If you want to add the Chinese program to the tour you need to arrange your visa for China. The Vietnamese Visa will be issued at the border and is included in the tour price.

Later registrations will be accepted if flights and hotels are still available. If you’re not sure whether you can participate please announce your interest well in advance so that we can hold your place.

Diesel depot next to Hanoi main station



Steelworks' Steam Farewell 11 to 28 participants £2,120
31.10.2010 – 06.11.2010 6 to 10 participants £2,410
  Single room surcharge £60
Registration Deadline: 10.06.2010
Hanoi and Ha Long Bay 4 to 28 participants £590
28.10.2010 – 01.11.2010 Single room surcharge £40
Registration Deadline: 10.06.2010

Price for tourist part is land only.

The price includes

Not included are

Thai Nguyen: Slagtip during the day ...

... and in the night

As a service to our UK-based clients FarRail Tours accepts and will continue to accept payments made out in Pound Sterling until further notice. However, please note that from January 28, 2009, all prices quoted in Pound Sterling are indicative only and are subject to change without prior notice. This measure was taken by FarRail Tours due to the unprecedented volatility in the international foreign exchange markets and its impact on the valuation of the Pound Sterling versus other major currencies, namely the Euro as FarRail Tours' accounting currency.


© FarRail Tours - e-mail: Bernd Seiler - zurück zu FarRail Tours
Click here to return to FarRail Tours